Two intrepid librarians

Two intrepid librarians review the best nonfiction books for children

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Washed Ashore

Washed Ashore: Making Art form Ocean Plastics 
by Kelly Crull
Millbrook Press, 2022
Grades 2-6

This unique, environmental picture book features fourteen sculptures created by the non-profit organization, Washed Ashore. Washed Ashore was founded by Angela Haseltine Pozzi in 2010 to educate the public about ocean pollution.

The layout of the book is a strength and will engage young children while teaching them about the harmful effects of plastic trash in the ocean. Each two-page spread includes a colorful, close-up photograph of a sculpture of marine life made from plastic trash. The expository text offers interesting facts about each featured animal and how plastic trash affects the creature and its habitat. Crull's writing is crisp and clear for young readers to comprehend.

On the bottom of each page is a "Can you find..." section. Readers are asked to locate various pieces of plastic trash in the sculpture similar to I Spy books. Sidebars in the upper right corner of the page share tips for reusing, reducing and recycling plastic trash.

There is a plethora of information in the back matter as well. Readers will be inspired to create their own trash sculptures with a step-by-step guide that shows Angela's artistic process. Crull also includes directions for a scavenger hunt game with the goal of cleaning up trash on beaches and in bodies of water. Run out and purchase this creative and interactive book that will inspire the readers of all ages to make a difference in the world. Washed Ashore could be used in public library programs, science classrooms, and it would make an excellent gift book.

You can preview pages from the book on the Lerner website.

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Because Claudette

Because Claudette                            
by Tracey Baptiste
illustrated by Tonya Engel
Dial Books, 2022
Grades K-4

Because Claudette introduces young readers to the often overlooked civil rights leader, Claudette Colvin. In 1955, at the age 15, Colvin was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on the bus to a white person. The picture book biography uses a chronological, cause and effect structure to illustrate to show how Colvin's action had an impact on the Montgomery bus boycotts and court cases that followed. The use of "because" on many pages helps readers see how one action can bold lead to a change in the system. Baptiste highlights other bus protesters from that year including Mary Louise Smith, Susie McDonald, Aurelia Browder, and Rosa Parks. Engel's realistic-style illustrations in acrylic and oil capture the emotions of the events while also conveying information through maps, newspapers and photographs incorporated into the artwork. A recommended purchase for classroom shelves and public & school libraries. 

Monday, March 14, 2022

Evicted! : The Struggle for the Right to Vote by Alice Fay Duncan

Evicted!: The Struggle for the Right to Vote
Alice Fay Duncan; Art. by Charly Palmer
Calkins Creek. An Imprint of Astra Books for Young Readers. 2022

In 1965, the Voting Rights Act was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson to eliminate discrimination in America’s political elections. “The law was passed to stop such criminal acts as racial gerrymandering, poll taxes, and economic reprisals.”  In Evicted!, Duncan tells the gripping true story known as the Fayette County Tent City Movement. She follows ten individuals to retell the events leading up to the trial of sharecropper Burton Dodson in 1959, and how that pivotal moment brought the Black community in Fayette County to stand together to demand their right to vote. 

In 1950, Fayette County’s population of 28.000 was two-thirds Black, and the Black majority was made up mostly of unlearned sharecroppers living on cotton farms owned by white landowners.” To discourage Blacks from registering to vote, the white minority used fear of lynching and terror of fire. Each two-page spread, Duncan recounts the events that had families burned out of their homes and forced to relocate to a makeshift community of tents, called, “Tent City.” “Seven hundred Black families in both Fayette and Haywood Counties were removed from their farms where they had lived and worked for two or three decades.” 

Once Blacks registered to vote, their names were placed on a list, a “blacklist”, that was shared throughout the white community in Fayette County. They were denied groceries and gasoline, white doctors denied medicine, and insurance agents cancelled policies.

This well-documented narrative nonfiction includes an epilogue, timeline, list of resources, bibliography, and brief author and artist note. Charly Palmer’s illustrations, rendered in acrylic paint, capture the emotion of this time. 

An upsetting read given the present political situation, Evicted! is an important addition to all collections, a must read for middle and high school readers. 

Click here to listen to an interview with Alice Fay Duncan.

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

New Nonfiction- March 2022

March 1

One Wish: Fatima al-Fihri and the World's Oldest University
by M.O. Yuksel
illustrated by Mariam Quraishi

by Rebecca E. Hirsch

by Kelly Crull

March 8

I'm a Neutrino: Tiny Particles in a Big Universe
by Eva M. Vavagiakas
illustrated by Ilze Lemesis

March 22

Close-Up On War: The Story of Pioneering Photojournalist Catherine Leroy in Vietnam
by Mary Cronk Farrell

Bobcat Prowling 
by Maria Gianferrari
illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline

Just a Girl: A True Story of World War II
by Lia Levi
illustrated by Jess Mason

Alias Anna: A True Story of Outwitting the Nazis
by Susan Hood
illustrated by Greg Dawson

March 29

Murder Among Friends: How Leopold and Loeb Tried to Commit the Perfect Crime
by Candace Fleming

Monday, March 7, 2022

There’s No Ham in Hamburgers by Kim Zachman

There’s No Ham in Hamburgers: Facts and Folklore About Our Favorite Foods
By Kim Zachman; Illustrated by Peter Donnelly
Running Press Kids. Hachette Book Group. 2021.

In her author’s note, Zachman states that during an internet search in trying to find out why “hamburgers are called hamburgers when there is no ham in them,” she discovered some very interesting stories about the origin of hamburgers. “I saw stories about Mongolian emperors, German immigrants, and American entrepreneurs. Some of the stories were true; some were partly true; and some were pure legend. It seems that when the facts are few, folklore fills in.”

Zachman investigates ten of our most favorite fast foods. From hamburgers, pizza, french fries, ice cream, hot dogs, chicken fingers to peanut butter (my favorite food), cookies, chocolate, and cereal.

For example, in order to feed his troops the ruthless conqueror, Genghis Khan (1162-1227), had his soldiers put raw meat scraps under their horses saddles. “The constant friction from hours of riding tenderized the meat enough for soldiers to eat it” while trotting across the tundra. It was a few centuries later, in the 1500's, in Hamburg, Germany, those meat patties were cooked, topped with sautéed onions. This yummy treat became a local favorite in Germany. When, "in the 1800's,  millions of Germans immigrated to the United States, they brought their Hamburg steak with them."

I loved knowing that George Washington ate a lot of ice cream. In fact, he racked up a bill for $200 at an ice cream shop in New York City. According to Zachman, “That would be like you spending $5,000 in one Baskin-Robbins in three months!” Now that’s a lot of ice cream. 

America has always been described as a melting pot, and Zachman does make a strong connection, in every chapter, that America's favorite foods were influenced by other cultures and brought to this country by immigrants. 

The book contains an author’s note, table of content, source notes, and index. Throughout each chapter are informative side bars, recipes and science experiments.

A fun, and quite delicious topic for those who love food and history. 

Our recommendation is not to read this on an empty stomach.

Friday, March 4, 2022

When the World Runs Dry by Nancy F. Castaldo

When the World Runs Dry: Earth’s Water in Crisis

Written by Nancy F. Castaldo

Algonquin Young Readers. 2022

As I sit here writing this review, I have a glass of water by my side. After reading When the World Runs Dry, I understand what a luxury it is to refill my glass when it becomes empty with a simple turn of the faucet. Science writer, Castaldo’s narrative nonfiction explains how water, essential for all life on this planet, is threatened and what we can do about saving this precious, essential  resource.

In eleven chapters, the book recounts worldwide issues that threaten our water supply. From lead in water pipes (Flint, MI), industrial pollution from chemical and coal production, contamination of groundwater from fracking, herbicide and pesticide pollution from agriculture (both large farms and home weed control), harmful algal blooms (HAB’S) and Red Tides, pharmaceutical pollution, droughts, rising sea levels to how the lack of water, and all the above listed reason for that lack of water, has seen a rise in conflict among nations.

Sobering facts, yet the book ends with some powerful stories of people who are working to raise awareness to issues surrounding water quality and quantity, as well as, ways readers can make a difference in your daily life. All doable tips we’ve been reading about for many years. 

    • Take shorter showers
    • Don’t flush the toilet every time
    • Turn off the tap when brushing your teeth
    • Only run your dishwasher when full
    • Fix leaky pipes
    • Try a rain barrel to water your garden

The book’s design is all in black and white, including photos, with additional facts highlighted with a grey background. The author includes an introduction, glossary, a list of resources, source notes, and index.

Recommended for collections that need information on our world’s water crisis and saving our planet.

Other books to include in a display include: An Inconvenient Truth by Al Gore, Chattanooga Sludge by Molly Bang(river pollution), City of Water by Andrea Curtis (how water gets to our cities), and to reinforce our interconnectivity to our planet add the series on the Sun by Molly Bang(My Light, Living Sunlight, Buried Sunlight, Rivers of Sunlight, Ocean Sunlight), and Trout are Made of Trees by April Sayre.

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Cover Reveal: Ice Cycle: Poems About the Life of Ice


Cover Reveal

We are excited to reveal the cover of a new book by Maria Gianferrari and Jieting Chen.

Ice Cycle: Poems About the Life of Ice will be released by Millbrook Press on October 4, 2022. The informational picture book will combine poetry and illustrations to teach children about the science behind ice.

Jacket design by Lindsey Owens

Maria Gianferrari is a community scientist, self-taught naturalist, and bird nerd who holds an M.A. in Creative Writing and a Ph.D. in English. She is the author of narrative nonfiction picture books which celebrate urban ecosystems, the natural world and our wild neighbors including Hawk Rising, Coyote Moon, and Whoo-Ku Haiku: A Great Horned Owl Story.

Jieting Chen is a New York based illustrator and animator. With years of experience, she produced and directed several award-winning short animation. She is the illustrator of Yuma's Cardboard Castles and Stop That Poem!